On Friday, Nov. 20, 2009, the New York Yankees made a few tweaks to their 40-man roster. The Yankees added seven players to their roster in preparation for the upcoming Rule-Five draft. Reggie Corona, Kevin Russo, Eduardo Nunez, pitchers Romulo Sanchez, Ivan Nova, and Hector Noesi make up six of the seven players rescued from the draft.
Among those seven players is Yankees top prospect, Austin Jackson. Jackson could be the next big Yankees prospect since Derek Jeter, and could be making a splash in the major leagues as early as next season.
In order for the Yankees to make room for these seven players, they had to designate one of their prospects for assignment. The New York Yankees have designated outfielder/first-base man, Shelly Duncan for assignment. Duncan could become a free-agent if he clears waivers.
Duncan and Jackson had great seasons, respectively, in the minor leagues. Jackson was named the Triple-A International League rookie of the year this season. A-Jax earned rookie of the year honors because he slugged an even .300 with 23 doubles and 24 stolen bases. He was the Yankees' Triple-A starting center-fielder.
Yankee fans could see Austin Jackson in pinstripes and under the lights of Yankee Stadium very soon, if the Yankees decide to call him up out of Spring Training. They certainly have room for Jackson on the roster.
Johnny Damon could be coming off the books and sign elsewhere. This opens up an outfield spot in left-field for the Yankees. Melky Cabrera could be moved to left, if the Yankees want Jackson in center-field. Center-field is always open because neither Melky nor Brett Gardner has shown that they have a strong hold of the position.
Brian Cashman, the Yankees general manager, recently commented about Jackson's "terrific year" in the minor. Cashman also said that the front office will discuss whether or not A-Jax is ready to take over.
The Yankees could always decide to do what they do best. That is spend money to get big name players in the off-season. Matt Holliday and Rick Ankiel are two big-name free agents that the Yankees could pursue. The Detroit Tigers have also put their outfielder Curtis Granderson on the trading block.
The Yankees have expressed interest in Granderson, but might not be willing to make a move if it requires them to give up pitchers Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes.
These minor Yankees moves rescued these players from being eligible for selection by other Major League teams. The Rule-Five Draft allows other teams to select minor-league players from other teams and add them to their rosters. Because the Yankees added Jackson and the others to their 40-man roster they can not be picked by other teams.
The last thing the Yankees need is to see Austin Jackson selected by the Red Sox and start in center-field for them at Fenway Park.